I’ve been getting more & more involved with my mountain biking, and have competed in a few events – and I’ve been considering getting a new mountain bike.
The bike I have been riding is still a great bike – but it’s size is an “XL” – and rated for a rider that is 6”1 – 6”4.
I’m a smidge under 6 ft – and so it’s too big for me – I’ve been getting sore in the back – and a few scary moments where I felt like I was riding a penny-farthing – and nearly crashed…
So – time to look at replacing – aka. upgrading – and getting a bike that FITS properly.
I’d ridden a number of dual suspension bikes on hire days, test-rides, and borrowing from a friend.
And so, I was looking at the 4-inch and 5-inch travel bikes – not interested in any full-on DH rigs, or the “all mountain” style.
More looking at “XC” and “trail” bikes. Something that will be good to climb, and good fun on descents – and maybe a few events.
Of course, the next question was ‘telemetry’ – would I go for a race-style (70 degree head angle) – or more laid back (68/69 degrees).
The list of bikes I wanted to look at was :
- Giant Anthem X2 – 100mm (4 inch) – more race-spec – but a good all-rounder – test-rode one of these at the Giant Demo Days at the You Yangs – first ever duallie I rode !
- Giant Trance X2 – 120mm (5 inch) – more trail style – more travel & ‘laid-back’ – also trialled this at the Giant Demo Days.
- Trek Fuel EX 6 – a buddy of mine (@CodeJedi) has a TREK, and so does his wife, son & daughter (!) – and the Fuel EX range is award-winning (EX-8), and great specs – might be worth a check
- Specialized Epic Comp – 100mm – race style geometry – like the Anthem. (I rode one down Mt.Buller – the best duallie I’d ever ridden – with the ‘Brain’)
- Specialized StumpJumper FSR Comp – 140mm – the grand-daddy of them all – I’ve ridden one in Seattle (in snow !) – and borrowed an S-Works from @mattunderground (member of the Specialized StumpJumper Trail Crew).
I was buying at the right time – End of Financial Year sale/s – and end of 2011 range – and winter time (not many people wanting to go riding !)
The Giant bikes were first on the list – with the Anthem X2 at $1850 – and the Trance X2 at $1999. (My budget imposed by the wife was $2000)
Both these bikes are sensible, reliable and great specs – and would be a no-brainer to buy one. The Anthem felt a little ‘sedate’ for my liking – not boring, but not exciting either. The Trance was really nice though – very cool ride indeed.
I have (had) a GIANT – so part of me thought I should go for another one – but another part of me wanted to try a different brand.
The Specialized bikes were top of my list – having ridden a few in the past – and i have recently bought a Specialized Secteur Road Bike – which is brilliant.
Great technology, good quality – but a price to match.
The Epic Comp was marked down to $3000 – and the StumpJumper Comp was about $3200. So – I could either go for a 2nd-hand one, or buy a Giant.
And then, someone suggested to look at the Specialized Camber range of bikes. These are like the telemetry/geometry of the StumpJumper – but without the frills.
I took this to mean “entry-level + cheap components” – but that was wrong.
It turns out that Specialized introduced the Camber as a “middle ground” – 120mm (5 inch) travel – directly in between the Epic and the StumpJumper.
So – it has all the design & quality – but a lower price tag.
Experienced trail riders and recent full-suspension converts looking for a no-nonsense trail bike need look no further.
With just the right amount of active, independent FSR travel for everything from singletrack to bomber descents, the Camber has the technology and capability to smoke your friends anywhere on the mountain.
Yep – that sounds about right – and good price tag. The RRP for the Camber Comp is $2200 – and I was able to shop around and test rode at Lysterfield.
And – I ended up buying one for $1800.
Yep – another Specialized bike in my stable – w00t !
Specs + Finish
It’s a bright RED+WHITE colour – looks fast, even when standing still.
Nice to have lock-on grips – and the saddle is a Specialized brand – same with the headset & bars. There’s a nice protective strip near the chain too – to stop damage when slapping around on bumpy sections.
And – the seat angle + kink in the seat post means that the rear wheel is a lot closer to the pedals, and seat. Also – the in-line suspension works nicely – rather than the ‘rocker’ design of other brands.
How Does It Ride ??
Apart from a spin around the car park near my local bike shop (LBS), I’ve only been out for ONE ride thus far – to my favourite trail riding destination – Lysterfield…
Admittedly, I hadn’t ridden ANY mountain bike trails for over a month – not since the MCES – and so I was a little rusty.
But – the bike was shiny & new – even if I wasn’t – and it rolled sooo nicely along the trails. A little tough on the climbs – partly ME – and partly the laid-back nature of the bike.
But – I played with the rear-suspension, and flipped it off to ride up a hill – so it climbed like a hardtail – nice. And then bombed down the rock garden, got to the bottom and realised I’d left the rear suspension OFF…!
So – I rode back up to the top – flipped the suspension to ON – and re-bombed the same trail – LOL ! Aaah – that’s MUCH better !
I rode over a small drop off – and actually let out a GASP – OMG ! – as it rode + landed so well. I ended up with a big smile on my face (!)
One aspect of the bike I’d worried about was the TEKTRO DRACO brake set – as opposed to an AVID ELIXIR set. But – they are in-cred-ible !! Thanks to the 180mm rotor on the front – and 160mm rear…! Huuge !
Anyway – suffice to say – it’s an awesome bike.
I actually had to keep pinching myself, and remembering that it’s actually MINE – and not have to drop it off at the end of the day. Ha ha !
Here’s a few pics from it’s “maiden voyage”…>
I’m looking forward to many, many, MANY more great trail rides + events…!
Farewell to my Giant Alias
Tonight, thanks to eBay, I sold my old black MTB – kinda bittersweet in a sense – with so many good days & memories.
But – it was time to sell it – and bid farewell to my big black giant.
I’m looking forward to many more NEW events and experiences – with my new Camber Comp…!
Ride on………. See you out on the trails.
Leave me a note if you wanna meet up for some riding – or just look out for a red+white flash – out at Lysterfield…